A major Sunni umbrella group called on its members on Monday to register for the next round of elections and take part "despite our reservations." Adnan al-Dulaimi, the head of the group, called the Sunni Endowment, said in a briefing in Baghdad that clerics would be asked to issue fatwas, or religious rulings, essentially ordering Sunnis to vote in elections. Among its other functions, the Sunni Endowment is charged with oversight of Sunni Arab mosques and holy sites throughout Iraq, giving it wide influence among clerics. "I ask all Sunni people to register their names for the next election, because we are in a political battle that depends on the vote," he said . . . Perhaps as significant as his call for voting, Mr. Dulaimi explicitly renounced violence as a way for the Sunnis to regain power.
Syrian security forces clashed early Monday in the hills overlooking Damascus with men believed to be militants connected to Iraq's insurgency, the official Syrian news agency SANA reported. Some of the militants were believed to have been former bodyguards for Saddam Hussein, the report said, but it gave no further details and did not say how it was known who they were or where they might have escaped to afterward . . . It was the second clash in as many days between the Syrian authorities and people believed to be militants, perhaps from the same group . . .